Have you ever bent a piece of plastic, rubber, metal or wire until it weakens or snaps in half? That may be a dramatic metaphor for what happens to the ligaments surrounding your elbow joints through repetitive use in sports activities, but it does, at least, give an idea of what can happen to your elbow when playing sports and why you should visit a Texas sport medicine clinic if it happens to you.
Texas sports medicine clinics commonly treat injuries to the muscles and ligaments that support joints in the body, including medial epicondylitis – also known as “pitcher’s elbow.” Sufferers usually complain of pain that begins on the inside of the elbow and gradually travels the length of the forearm. Baseball pitchers who throw balls at incredibly high velocities over and over again subject the muscles and ligaments of their elbows to high levels of strain, which can eventually cause microscopic tears to form in the adjoining ligament. This frequently requires seeing a Texas sports medicine physician and possibly taking a break from activity for a sustained period of time.
Pitcher’s elbow is more prevalent in younger athletes who are still in various stages of development, particularly in 10 to 12-year-old Little League baseball players and teenagers. While they do not throw the balls at the same speeds as major league players, the repetition of throwing the ball coupled with other factors, like the height of the pitcher’s mound and the style with which they throw, can contribute to injury.
Pitchers should notice their pain levels and be responsive. If throwing the ball begins to be painful, the pitcher should give it a rest for a while so that the muscles and ligaments can adequately recover. Over time, aspiring pitchers should begin to gain an understanding of how much they can pitch without injury and learn to remain within those boundaries.
Another good idea is to adhere to methods of pitching that are less likely to lead to injury. Keeping your arms close, pointing your shoulder at the target, and not overextending the pitching arm are three components a better, less painful pitching style. Warming up before you pitch and altering the way you throw the ball are both helpful in preventing the condition.
Lastly, if you have injured your elbow, it is important to consult a Texas sports medicine doctor as soon as possible in order to prevent the condition from worsening or preventing you from ever playing baseball again. Treatment may include arthroscopic surgery, physical therapy or a regimen of rehabilitative exercises.
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